Learning to play an instrument can be difficult and time consuming – especially for adults – and it takes a lot of patience to stick with it. While innovations such as Now Play It have aimed to sustain engagement with video tutorials from pop stars, Playground Sessions uses a gamified approach to digital learning for piano players to encourage them to keep practising, with real-time analysis of progress.
The software is designed to get users to start playing the songs they know from the start, rather than teaching scales, chords and theory. Instead, the songs available – which range from Beethoven to Justin Bieber – are selected as examples of certain musical techniques. Using a MIDI or USB keyboard that can be plugged into a computer, tutees play along to video lessons and on-screen sheet music and have their performance monitored in real-time. In practice mode, interactive feedback is offered in the form of green notes when a key is pressed at the right time and duration and red notes if a mistake is made. At the end of a practice, an accuracy score out of 100 is offered. Badges can be collected based on the user’s sense of timing, rhythm and accuracy, as well as completing sections of the Bootcamp learning project or mastering a certain genre.
A number of other features make Playground Sessions a wholly interactive learning experience. A public leaderboard shows learners how they’re faring against others using the program, while the Playground Sessions community can connect with each other to chat, share advice or practice together online. Group performances can be recorded and uploaded to Facebook or Youtube. A progress section also lets players see how they’ve done over time – what areas they have improved in and which they need to work on. The video below acts as a promotion for the service:
Playground Sessions was backed in its early stages by legendary producer Quincy Jones, who has had a role in developing the software. With multiple features to delve into, the product ensures that piano learners don’t get bored and remain engaged with playing the instrument.